I wasn’t always aware of two interesting polar opposites. But throughout the years, I’ve realized there are two things that cannot exist together in my life. No matter what, they are mutually exclusive: clutter and focus.
Until clutter eventually wins, I never realize that the two elements are in such an epic battle. It’s crazy. I’ll walk into my office one day and can’t physically see my desk. That’s when I need to go ahead and hit the pause button.
Everyone is different. But for me, if clutter exists, then focus absolutely doesn’t. Check out my 8 warning signs below. They indicate when clutter is becoming a problem in my life. See which symptoms apply to you too:
Clutter and Focus: Two Things That Cannot Exist Together
1. Taking on too many projects.
This is probably the worst for me. In order to keep my in-box clean, I’ll print out the email to represent a project I need to engage. Eventually, I realize I have so many projects lined up that I start mindlessly deleting things. Although the delete button can be my friend, excessive use can hurt me in the long run.
2. Not finishing the projects that I started.
These are even projects for which I hold the vision! I have a “starter” gift. Unfortunately, I don’t have the “finisher” gift. That’s not an excuse, though. Anyone can start something. The real winners finish what they start (if it’s worth it).
3. Giving too much (or any) time/energy/resources to projects that don’t match up with my vision.
This has more to do with getting involved in the community than anything. Events need promotion. Videos need edited. Teams need donations. All those are good things. However, when they get in the way of your leadership over your organization, they become obstacles to manage. Be careful how many you take on. And don’t be afraid to say no! The “extras” don’t have to answer to God for what you do in this life!
4. Not taking time out to think (this actually deserves to be number one).
The Strengths Finder tells me I need to spend a solid amount of time each week in my own head. I believe the “theme of talent” this relates to is “intellection.” This test showed me that my work, relationship, and life in general will be healthiest when I spend plenty of time thinking. By the way, if you haven’t taken the Strengths Finder, do it. Immediately! It will change everything about your leadership and work life!
5. Not getting enough rest.
When life gets busy, the first thing to go is rest. My thought is, “I can shave off a couple of hours of sleep to finish this project and just grab coffee in the morning.” That’s fine until it turns into a weeklong habit. At that point, you can’t recover.
6. Poor time management.
In student ministry, I have enough work to do to fill my week with office work. But I’m a pastor. And one of my gifts/strengths/skills is to spend time with my students to love on them. If I go office-heavy, those kids get cheated. If I go meeting-heavy, the work gets cheated. And that’s not even taking into account family time. Good time management is key.
7. Not delegating well.
Ugh, this is really tough for me. Yes, I have an awesome youth ministry team ready to take on the next responsibility. But when I run at an unhealthy pace, I tend to blow past them in an effort to complete the next project. This is a symptom that I’m not thinking through my processes and projects.
8. Not maintaining a “stop doing” list.
Jim Collins taught me this. A stop doing list is just as important as a to-do list. Do you spend equal energy on both?
What are your thoughts about these two things that cannot exist together? What symptoms would you add?